CLEARWATER, FL — Philadelphia Phillies prospect Anthony Hewitt has a little something up his sleeve.The infielder turned outfielder was a first-round pick straight out of high school in 2008, but hasn’t panned out at the pace he expected.
The 23-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., native ideally would like to be in the major leagues by this point, but realizes the decision is out of his hands.
“Honestly, the Phillies organization … they anticipated me being in the minor leagues this long, I didn’t,” said Hewitt, sitting in the bleachers at the club’s practice facility. “I now realize that if they have a plan for you, more than likely you’re gonna do that plan.”
The Phillies saw a lot of major league potential when they first acquired Hewitt out of Salisbury Prep high school.
“We’re willing to be patient, take our time, cover all the bases and give the player time to develop,” said Joe Jordan, director of player development from his office at the Phillies minor league complex . “Anthony has tremendous power, good speed and a good arm, all of the things needed to develop a potential impact major league player – now we’ve got to build skill.”
While some would think Hewitt’s in an unfortunate situation, he believes his current status actually works in his favour.
“It’s the best position I could ever be in – nothing to lose and everything to gain,” said Hewitt. “You can’t do anything but just work on your game until your time is ready.”
And with this time, Hewitt has also changed his whole mental focus toward his approach to baseball.
“I’ve read a lot of books to really strengthen this muscle the most [pointing at his head] because everything else is perfect,” said Hewitt. “My muscles, my body feels great, but if your head isn’t where it needs to be, you can’t get your machine to do what you want.”
However, the former prized prospect was sidetracked with injuries last season, suffering through a strained hamstring and quad, along with some tendon issues in his wrist and a broken hand.
“A lot of people don’t know that, but I’ll keep that as my little secret,” Hewitt said while refused to make excuses. “I was all banged up and I still played, and I did decently for someone that injured.”
When fans hear athletes complaining too much about injuries, many might assume that player is soft. Athletes often complain that if they keep injuries to themselves, they are often criticized for sub-par performance.
Last season, Hewitt struggled through a .241 average with the Clearwater Threshers of the Florida State League, hitting 13 home runs, 50 RBIs and 13 stolen bases – a low total for the self-professed “fastest man on the team.”
More alarming was his 136 strikeouts, an area he must improve if he expects the Phillies to come calling.
But now Hewitt, claiming complete health, says he could make a turnaround this season in despite of the growing doubters.
“I wouldn’t be surprised at all,” he said. “But I know a lot of people would be.”